Books

I Was Poisoned by Arnold Lobel's Children's Fable, 'Frog and Toad'

Leo Warner

Lobel could have done his little gay readers an immeasurable and un-parallelled service. Instead, he set us up for perpetual disappointment.


The Frog and Toad Collection

Publisher: HarperCollins
Author: Arnold Lobel
Publication date: 2004-05
Amazon

Everyone applauds Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad books for covertly introducing children to the idea of long-term gay love. (Well, almost everyone.) And yes, on one level, the bond between Frog and Toad is touching and inspiring.

These creatures cook for each other, make special gifts, tell each other stories, act as bedside nurses, write kind letters to each other, and do a million other small, nice, thoughtful things. Just like we're taught to do. And then we grow up.

Have you ever wondered why so many gay men are perpetually single? Has it never occurred to anyone that the reason we're romantically frustrated is because we've been poisoned by the unrealistic expectations we developed while reading Frog and Toad?

I've dated an array of guys, and not one has been half as selfless and gentle as Frog. And here I am hopping around, imagining that the love between Frog and Toad is some kind of norm between men, and that anything less perfect and harmonious would be just... sad.

And so: thanks, Lobel, for tainting my thoughts and setting me up for permanent failure. Thank you for ruining my shot at happiness.

I think even children should get a dose of reality in their fiction. Indeed, readers of Frog and Toad should all get to see some of the behind-the-scenes tension that surely animates the domestic life of these two seemingly cheery amphibians. Where's the scene in which Frog tells Toad that he'd like to experiment with a "polyamorous" lifestyle and that he, Toad, ought simply to accept this sad news and keep the home fire burning?

Where's the scene in which Toad tells Frog he hates Frog's Old Navy khaki pants from Old Navy, even though the pants are perfectly fine, and anyway, these two hardly know each other....it's only their second date...and what kind of creature says something so gratuitously nasty to another creature on a second date? What kind, indeed?

Where's the scene in which Toad stumbles across nude selfies on Frog's computer, and Frog lies and says he just wanted a few genital pics to use as autoerotic stimuli during his upcoming trip to Italy. Then later Frog admits that the photos are actually meant as a tool for initiating cybersex with strangers on the aforementioned trip to Italy.

And where's the part where Frog comes out to Turtle, who is both his ex-girlfriend and his closest buddy, and Turtle scowls and says, "Gross. You're really going to stick that thing up another dude's butt?

And how about the scene in which Toad's mentally unstable father goes mute for five years because he cannot (will not) accept Toad's "choice of lifestyle"?

Where's the back story, as when Frog and Toad haven't met yet, they're just e-mailing each other and though their level of acquaintance is so low that they have not even spoken on the phone or shared a quick coffee break, Frog still feels compelled to write, "I'm a bottom. We don't have to fuck on the first date. We could go slow--like, making-out on Date Two and full-scale intercourse on Date Three. Does that work for you?"

If Lobel had dared to tell just a pinch of The Sordid Truth, he would have done his little gay readers an immeasurable and un-parallelled service. He would have helped them toughen up in preparation for real gay dating life.

Instead, he gave us a series of silly, slippery self-delusional little fairy tales.

Come to think of it, maybe Frog and Toad is rather like real life…


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.